Third Annual Dark Star Jubilee 2014 Proves To Be Outstanding

Whenever you combine sunny skies, new & old friends and great music, you are bound to have a fantastic time.

Dark Star Jubilee, which took place in Thornville, OH from May 23-25, brought together all of that and some. Hosted by Dark Star Orchestra, this annual festival is proving itself to be one of the best of the entire year.

DSJ put together a line-up of talented musicians and was able showcased them one at a time, while doing it all at one of the best venues in the country, Legend Valley.

Starting off the music at this year’s Jubilee, was one of the best jam acts in the country, The Werks.

They quickly showed everyone why they headline their own festival at Legend Valley at the end of the summer, The Werkout.
The Werks wowed me with the blazing solos of guitarist, Chris Houser, his licks immediately sky-rocketed everyone from the ground to the skies. We wouldn’t come back down again until we hit the highway towards home on Sunday night.
After the guys left the stage, Keller Williams with More than a Little started up not fifty feet away (there were two stages next to each other) and kept us soaring. His soulful side-project is the perfect mix of groove and doo-wop, we were all entranced until the moment they played their last note.IMG_0747As good as the first two acts of the day were, they could not compare to the one that would follow them. Dark Star Orchestra took the stage for their first of three headlining sets over the course of the weekend and captivated every person in the venue with their incredible recreation of the experience of a Grateful Dead show.IMG_0760

It’s as if they opened up a wormhole on stage and transported us back in time to San Francisco and sat us all down in front of Jerry and the gang.

IMG_0817The highlight of their set was definitely their rendition of “Morning Dew”, a powerful ballad that starts off slow and builds to a roaring crescendo of guitar and emotion.IMG_0930After DSO, the Vermont based trio The Devil Makes Three had the tough job of following them and closing out the evening. They brought some of the most original bluegrass melodies and lyrics I have heard, ending everyone’s night on a great note.


The next morning brought a walk through the merchandise area, a little exploration of the campgrounds and Toubab Krewe, an Asheville based quintet that has a sound unlike any other. Consider them a mix of North Carolina bluegrass with a heavy world and Traditional African music influence.IMG_1562After their set came one of the most original and anticipated acts of the weekend, the Everyone Orchestra led by conductor Matt Butler. What makes this group so special is that only one member, the conductor, remains constant and everyone else on the roster of the band is determined on the day of the show.IMG_1487

The Everyone Orchestra combines talented musicians with a very expressive leader and brings a completely improvised set to every stage they grace.

Once again, the best crowd of the night was found for Dark Star Orchestra’s set, which was completely justified.IMG_1870This time, instead of creating their own original set list, they recreated one of the Grateful Dead’s sets from 1977 that included such hits as ‘Scarlet Begonias/Fire on the Mountain.’ ‘St. Stephen,’ ‘The Music Never Stopped,’ and ‘ Friend of the Devil.’
It was an incredible display of musicianship and everyone in the crowd was hanging upon every note they played.IMG_2125The next band to hit the stage was Galactic. They had a sound that was bass heavy, full of horns and based in New Orleans jazz.IMG_2226As I scanned the crowd I didn’t see a single person not enjoying their sound.IMG_2424Finally, closing out the night was the Yonder Mountain String Band. They showed us all why they are one of the premier bluegrass bands in the entire country.

It was certainly an amazing day of music capped off by some of the best bands on the festival circuit today. No one wanted it to end.


The next afternoon brought a dizzying array of musical talent to the two stages.

The day began with The Rumpke Mountain Boys, who played one of the best sets of the entire weekend and had one of the best crowds as well. They are a down-home country act that is on the rise and if you haven’t heard of them yet, you will soon be seeing them all over.IMG_2541

When it comes to bluegrass, The Rumpke Mountain Boys, are the real deal.

However, this festival was more than just bluegrass and jam music, the rest of the day would show that.

The band Orgone brought the funk, Cornmeal was led by a blazing violin and acoustic guitar, and both Aliver Hall and Anders Osborne rocked out hard and heavy, bringing just a bit of metal and blues to the weekend.IMG_3075Finally, the most soothing sounds of the weekend came from reggae legends, The Wailers. With two original members from Bob Marley’s backing band, they still play all of their songs for the world to hear.

On this day, they chose to recreate their album “Legend” in its entirety.
Capping off the final night of DSJ was of course,Dark Star Orchestra, who captivated everyone in the crowd with an original set and brought the weekend to a close in the best of ways.

When their last note played it was almost hard to bear that the festival was coming to an end, but we all took solace knowing that they plan to do it all again next year.

For more information on Dark Star Jubilee visit:

Words by Charlie Spooner

Photos by OwlEyesOnYou


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